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Lake Monticello police to enforce low-level speeding

Drivers, beware. Exceeding Lake Monticello’s 25 miles per hour (mph) speed limit could soon result in a $50 fine.

Currently, the Lake Monticello Police Department (LMPD) only issues Fluvanna County traffic citations for drivers caught going 39 mph or above. 

But starting “immediately,” said Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) Board Vice President Tom Braithwaite, the LMPD can issue a policy violation – rather than a Fluvanna County speeding ticket – for drivers clocked at speeds between 26 and 39 mph.    

LMPD will also be able to issue a policy violation for drivers who fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs. 

“This is not a policy change, since it has been policy since 2009,” Braithwaite wrote in a notice to the community, “but has not been implemented.”

The Board of Directors voted 7-0 during the regular monthly meeting Thursday (Jan. 25) to begin implementing the policy and to give the general manager the authority to set up the paperwork and procedures needed to enforce it. 

The administration will also set up a database of residents so the LMPD can track repeat offenders. After the third policy violation in a 12-month period, the next stop will result in a regular Fluvanna County traffic citation. 

These “compliance tickets” can be prepaid to the office, or offenders can go before the Compliance Committee to argue their cases. 

Braithwaite and the Board gave several reasons to begin enforcement of minor speeding violations, including recent resident complaints about people driving too fast and the loss of revenue to LMOA, which does not benefit from county court fines and has to make Lake police available for court hearings. 

A survey of monthly police reports from 2016-2017 showed the LMPD made 191 traffic stops for speeding in 13 months, for an average of about 14 stops per month. In that same period, they made a total of 16 stops for drivers running stop signs.  

This data is not complete, though, as there were no police reports available on the LMOA members’ website or Board documents for parts of 2016 and much of 2017. It’s also not clear if all stops for speeding resulted in tickets, or if some were warnings.  

The most controversial aspect of the policy on local social media boards is what happens if a Lake resident’s guest is stopped for a speed-related policy violation. If a guest or a contract worker is stopped for minor speeding, the $50 compliance ticket will go to the resident, who is “responsible” for anyone they let in the gates under the homeowners’ association rules. 

Non-residents with barcodes, including contractors and utility workers, could have their barcodes deactivated for minor traffic infractions. Barcode request forms will include a warning that they can lose their gate privileges.

Some details of the policy are murky. It’s not clear, for example, if guests’ tickets or stop sign violations count against residents’ three violations per year, or if residents can call LMPD officers to Compliance Committee hearings.    

General Manager Catherine Neelley did not respond to a request for information on policy enforcement.

The meeting was Neelley’s last as general manager. A successor has not yet been selected, but Director Bing Spitler is now in negotiations with the leading candidates for the position.